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Ain el-Hilweh Residents: Fed up with Tension and Death | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Armed men walk in the streets of Ain el-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp near Lebanon’s southern port city of Sidon following clashes on August 22, 2015 (AFP Photo/Mahmoud Zayyat)

Ain el-Hilweh (South Lebanon)- Cautious calm prevailed on Friday in the Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp in south Lebanon although a second round of fighting might erupt any minute if efforts to hand over wanted extremists to the Lebanese sate failed.

On Thursday, clashes erupted in the camp when militants from the wanted Bilal Abu Arqoub group opened fire at members of the Joint Palestinian Force.

Exchanged shooting then escalated into rocket attacks, tossing bombs and sniping operations that resulted in the death of Obeida, the son of Bilal Abu Arqoub, and the injury of eight others.

But, next to the fighting stand residents who are sick of the presence of extremists and the security tension constantly witnessed in the camp in the past couple of months.

“We are against the presence of extremists in the camp, and we also refuse their fanatic ideas,” one resident from Ain el-Hilweh told Asharq Al-Awsat on Friday.

But, residents are neither concerned nor scared of another battle inside the camp.

“We got used to the sporadic clashes that erupt from time to time. This sentiment is shared among all residents who continuously struggle to have a normal life. We are sick of tension and death,” a taxi driver, who crosses daily from Ain al-Hilweh to the city of Sidon, told Asharq Al-Awsat.

The issue of the wanted extremists hiding in Ain al-Hilweh reemerged following the Arsal deal reached lately between “Hezbollah” and al-Nusra Front which secured the deportation of members of the militant group to northern Syria.

Observers believe that a similar deal could resolve the problem of the militants who have taken refuge in Ain al-Hilweh after the Lebanese state extends its authority in the Juroud, the barren mountainous border area between Lebanon and Syria.

The Lebanese army’s battle against the militant enclave in the Jouroud was launched early Saturday.